This year, I have stayed in 51 hotels. I was stunned when I added them all up.
They’ve ranged from five-star city hotels to a YHA, bures on the beach to cheap roadside motels, a log cabin and a glass igloo, wonderfully elegant B&Bs (but no Air BnB yet!), and some swish island resorts. A few have been on private holidays, but most of them have been in the course of my work as a travel writer. Understandably, a regular gig as a hotel reviewer helps boost the tally.
But it got me thinking about what I like and dislike about hotels. Very few of them are faultless, but there are some things that seem designed to annoy guests and I’m tempted to think they’re made by someone who’s never stayed in a hotel! Some are common, others thankfully less so. And it doesn’t seem to matter where in the world you are staying, those common faults crop up again and again.
Most of them are things that I know I’m not alone in finding annoying. What do you think?
Being accompanied to my room and shown every detail. Unless my bags are unmanageable (which they rarely are), I’m happy to take them to my room and settle in alone. I don’t need a bellboy to come with me, show me how the curtains open and close, how the TV works, or anything else. If I need help, I can call for it. In the US, this is often the prompt for a tip, but it happens elsewhere too – even where tipping is not expected.
Fifteen pillows – and nowhere to put them. They may look lovely when you come into the room, but at bedtime that multitude of brocade-covered pillows has to go somewhere. And unless you’re in a suite, there’s not usually even a sofa to throw them onto. My choice…usually the floor, always with a twinge of guilt.
Paying for wi-fi. It seems such an easy thing to make free, but there are still hotels charging around $30 a day for wi-fi access, particularly in Australia. It’s getting better, but the bigger hotels are the most guilty of this.
Light switches that don’t make sense. How many times have you searched high and low, flicked countless switches, and still can’t get all the lights to turn off. Some years ago, in a hotel the name of which I’ve now forgotten, I had to call reception to get someone to turn the lights off before I could sleep. “Happens all the time,” said the staff member sent to help me.
Empty mini-bars. If there’s a mini-bar, please stock it. I will probably avoid it anyway, because the costs will be exhorbitant, but I’d like to know that there’s a cool drink or a chocolate bar there “in emergency”.
Lack of power points. When I’ve got multiple devices to charge before my next day’s activities – phone, camera battery, laptop – it’s good to have a selection of power points. Perhaps I want to boil the kettle for a cup of tea, too. And please don’t hide them and make me scramble on the floor or have to move the furniture to reach them!
Kettles that don’t fit under the tap. In a standard hotel room, the only place to fill the kettle with water is the bathroom tap. And too often, the shape of the basin makes it impossible to fit the electric jug under the tap – or if you can, you then have to tip it up to extract it, tipping all the water out again in the process.
Open plan bathrooms. There are some times when privacy is essential. No matter how intimate the relationship with your travelling companion, a bathroom and/or toilet that’s open to the bedroom is never a good idea. Some couples resort to using the lobby loo…but that’s not exactly always convenient either. The worst example of this that I’ve seen was a hotel in Sri Lanka, where there were no screens, half-walls or barriers of any kind; the loo just sat in the corner, open to the rest of the bedroom. Thankfully, I was travelling alone.
Soap/shampoo pump packs. While we’re on bathrooms, give me a bar of soap any day. Pump packs of soap (or shampoo) never seem to work properly.
Hangers that can’t be moved. I’m not going to steal them, honestly. But I might want to hang something up in the bathroom, and having the wardrobe as the only hanging space is just plain inconvenient.
Shouty signs. A proliferation of signs that shout warnings or instructions at guests are just plain annoying. No-one minds a small “no smoking” sign or one that reminds you about hanging up your towel to save water, but some hotels go over the top with reminders and notices about things that are just common sense. Give your guests some credit for brains.
But don’t get me wrong, I love hotels. For many reasons. And so you don’t think I’m just another cranky guest, my next post will be about the things I love most about hotels in all their variations.
How about you? What gets the thumbs-down when you’re staying in a hotel?